GOOD TARGET BEHAVIOR:
1. Observable: The behavior can actually be seen. It is NOT something that is underlying and assumed to be occurring.
2. Measurable: The behavior can actually be measured (leaves a permanent product, like solutions to a math problem) or rate (on a behavior checklist, etc).
3. Well-Defined: The behavior is defined objectively and simply so that two or more people can agree when the behavior occurs.
Examples of Poor Target Behaviors Include Selections such as: "a bad attitude" and "no responsibility".
Examples of Behaviors to Target:
1. Talking out/Noise: Inappropriate verbalization or making sounds with object, mouth or body.
2. Out of Seat: Student fully or partially out of assigned seat without teacher permission.
3. Inactive: Student not engaged with assigned task or passively waiting, sitting, etc.
4. Noncompliance: Breaking a classroom rule or not following teacher directions within 15 seconds.
5. Play with object: Manipulating objects without teacher permission.
6. Time out of the room (missed instruction):
Good classroom rules should be the backbone of any proactive strategy to reduce problem behaviors. There should be a minimum expectation for behavior for every student in the classroom which the rules describe. Characteristics of good proactive rules include:
1. Keep the number of rules to a minimum - about five rules for each classroom.
2. Have the rules logically represent you basic expectations for a student's behavior in your classroom.
3. Keep the wording positive (if possible). Most rules can be stated in a positive manner.
4. Make your rules specfiic. The more ambiguous (i.e., open to several interpretations) the rules are, the more difficult they are to understand.
5. Make your rules describe behavior that is observable. The behavior must be observable so that you can make an unequivocal decision as to whether or not the rule has been followed.
6. Make your rules describe behavior that is measurable. That is, the behavior must be able to be counted or quantified in some way for monitoring purposes.
7. Publicly post the rules in a prominent places in the classroom (i.e., in the front of the classroom, near the door). The lettering should be large and block-printed.
8. Tie following the rules to consequences. You should spell out what happens positively if students follow the rules, and what they lost if they do not follow the rules. Frequently, teachers forget to state the positive consequences.
9. Always include a compliance rule. You get the behavior that you post in rules. If you want to improve compliance in the classroom, include a rule such as "Do what your teachers ask immediately".
When to Teach Rules:
During the first couple weeks of school, a great exercise to start each day would be to:
1. Read the posted rules.
2. Discuss and/or role play why the rule is important.
3. Explain what will happen if the rule is followed.
4. Explain what will happen if the rule is not followed.
Following the first two weeks of school, the rules/consequences need to be reviewed on a continual basis. Teachers need to understand that it is necessary to complete steps 1 through 4 (above) for rules:
- Every other day (one rule a day);
- During transition time mid-morning (focusing on the rule(s) that the students are experiencing difficulty following);
- Following return from lunch/recess/specials;
- Following return from the weekend;
- Following return from vacations/holidays;
- When a new student enrolls in the classroom.
A way to continually reinforce classroom rules would be to integrate steps 1 through 4 (above) into a literacy center.
Why is it Important for Teachers to Select and Post Rules BEFORE the First Day of School:
- If students were given the opportunity to create list of rules, students tend to be overly punitive.
- Students often generate too many rules or nonspecific rules.
- Some students with behavior problems may feel as though they do not have to follow rules selected by other students; hence, authority of a teacher is needed.
Examples of Inappropriate Rules:
- Be responsible
- Be a good citizen
- Pay attention
- Be ready to learn
- Demonstrate respect for others
- Respect others' rights
- Respect authority
- Treat school property appropriately
- Do your best
- Take care of your materials
- Maintain appropriate behavior in the classroom
- Be kind to others
- Be polite
Examples of Preferred Rules:
- Turn in completed assignments on time
- Sit in you seat unless you have permission to leave it
- Do what an adult asks immediately
- Raise your hand and wait for permission to speak
- Unless you have permission to speak, talk only about your work
- Do not bother or hurt others
- Walk, don't run, at all times in the school building
- Keep hands, feet, and objects to self
- Bring materials (books, notebooks, paper, pens, pencils) to class
Where to Place Students with Behavior Problems:
1. Placed in the front of the classroom and close to teacher - this allows the teacher to reinforce the student with behavior problems for positive behaviors that the student is demonstrating
2. Away from other students with behavior problems - Having students with behavior problems sit together is like disruptive behavior ability grouping. Students with behavior problems often reward each other for disruptive behavior. Surround the student with behavior problems around students who demonstrate/model appropriate behavior.
The easiest and most effective proactive strategy for teachers to reinforce classroom rules is to MOVE AROUND THE CLASSROOM. Walking around the classroom permits the teacher to anticipate problems and to handle them before they get out of hand. It also allows a teacher to subtly reinforce students (i.e., simple touch on a student's shoulder, bending down and looking at the student's work, reinforcing a student by providing them with a positive comment ("Good job").
How Can Teachers Determine How Much Time is Spent Moving Around the Classroom:
- Keep track of the amount of time you actually spend behind your desk (one week interval).
- For the following week: attempt to cut this amount of time down by 1/2 and start wandering around the classroom making positive comments.
Unique Positive Procedures
Teachers must find unique and interesting ways to consistently provide motivation and recognition to their students for exhibiting the behaviors they desire to increase. If adequate motivation and recognition are not in place, no classroom management plan will ever be effective.
“If the behavior increases, reinforcement has occurred. If it does not, what was provided was not reinforcing enough.” Some examples include:
- Every time Jessica is out of her seat, Mrs. Harper tells her to sit down. Mrs. Harper cannot understand why it seems that Jessica is out of her seat more than ever.
- Mr. White sends Mike out in the hall to sit on a chair because of disruptive behavior in the classroom. Darrin talks to others students and adults who pass by him, in addition to helping himself to candy he finds in the pocket of another student’s coat. Mr. White finds that Mike is disruptive again soon after he is permitted to return to the classroom.
In both of these situations, students received attention from others as a result of their inappropriate behavior.
Both positive and negative reinforcement increase behavior, while punishment decreases it.
- Positive reinforcement is said to occur when something a student desires is presented after appropriate behavior has been exhibited.
- Example: Colby can now earn up to ten points for completing his reading workbook assignment correctly. The points can be exchanged for dinosaur stickers. Because Colby enjoys the stickers he can earn, the accuracy of his assignments has increased.
- Negative reinforcement is said to occur when students engage in particular behavior to avoid or escape something they dislike.
- Example: Jennifer’s truant behavior increases to avoid an English class in which she is unable to do the work.
- Punishment is said to occur when something the student does not like or wishes to avoid is applied after the behavior has occurred, resulting in a decrease in the behavior.
- Example: Every time John skips school, he is required to make up the missed time in an after-school detention. Because he dislikes after-school detention so much, the skipping stops.
Concerns with Positive Reinforcement:
Many regular students exhibit appropriate behavior it is the responsible and “right” thing to do. Even so, they still need positive reinforcement. Likewise, not very many teachers would continue to work if they did not receive paychecks. Similarly, ALL students need legitimate reinforcement. As far as the bribery issue goes, we can agree that teachers should not use bribery with ANY student. However, appropriately administered positive reinforcement is not a bribe. Webster’s dictionary defines a bribe as an inducement for an illegal or unethical act. Proper positive reinforcement is given only after an appropriate behavior to increase or maintain that behavior.
An antecedent strategy is one which comes before a behavior and increases or maintains it. Antecedent strategies increase students’ motivation and encourage them to exhibit desired behavior. Use of antecedent strategies may be viewed as “setting the stage” for appropriate behavior to occur. When it is possible to use antecedent strategies it is desirable to do so, rather than waiting for the appropriate behavior to occur and the reinforcing it.
Examples of Positive Antecedent Strategies:
- “I know you can do this!”
- “Let’s see if you can do as well as you did yesterday.”
- “Give it a try!”
- Structuring Incentives
- “Students who are in their seats when the bell rings can choose where they sit tomorrow.”
- “When the class has accumulated five days with no tardies, we’ll have a 20-minute party at the end of class.”
- “Students who have not been sent to the office or had a phone call home for inappropriate behavior will be eligible for our raffle drawing.”
- “I’m giving each of you a 20% off bonus card this morning. Anyone who earns 80 or more points by 3:00 PM can use the bonus card in the class store.”
- “Wow! I’ve got a ten minute free time coupon today for anyone earning 90% or better on the quiz. I know a lot of you are anxious to try out our new video game during free time. Everyone I know who has tried it says it’s the best one on the market! Let’s see who can try it out first. It’s really great.”
- “Don’t forget we’ll be having a raffle drawing on the last day of school for everyone who has earned it. The prizes are super. You’re going to want to be there! You’ve got a great chance of winning something. Just remember to follow the rules.”
- Relating Academic Accomplishments to Outcomes
- “Everyone who passes the mastery test can skip study hall and take an extra 15 minute recess.”
- “Students who have all their work caught up will be eligible to work as peer tutors in Mrs. Stock’s second grade class.”
- “Students who have a B+ average or better in reading will receive an award at the Parents’ Night Assembly.”
Motivation and Encouragement:
The steps are simple:
- Tell students what you want them to do (and make certain they understand it).
- Tell them what will happen if they do what you want them to do.
- When students do what you want them to do, give them immediate positive feedback in ways that are direct and meaningful to them.
· If recognition is delayed until the end of the term or the school year, it might as well not be given at all. For most, this long of a delay translates into ineffective or essentially meaningless recognition.
Effective Use of Positive Reinforcement:
Two categories of positive reinforcement must be examined:
- Natural reinforcement readily available within the classroom or school or that can be made available as an ongoing part of the school program.
- Other reinforcement to which the teacher has access and can make available.
Natural Positive Reinforcement:
Rhode, G., Jenson, W., & Kenton-Reavis, H. (1992). The Tough Kid Book: Practical Classroom Management Strategies. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.